Enterprise Architecture for SMBs

Though the name implies large corporations, the disciplined process of enterprise architecture benefits businesses of all sizes. Strategic planning and implementation needs the comprehensive picture of enterprise architecture combined with the agility of adaptive technologies. IT leaders can help manage the opposing pressure of architecture stability and the drive for an agile organization.

In his book “Introduction to Business Architecture,” Chris Reynolds explains that “business architecture is a model that represents various views of a business, including the Goals, Facades, Processes, Communications, and Business Entities views.”[1] These five categories can help you get a holistic picture of the current state your business, and it can help you plan for the future.

  • Goals – What is the business seeing to accomplish?
  • Facades – How does the business interact with stakeholders (customers, vendors, regulators)?
  • Process – How does operations provide support for business interactions?
  • Communication – What are all the ways a company communicates internally and externally?
  • Entities – What type of information does the business deal with?

Once you develop a snapshot of the business, you begin to build a map between where you are and where you want to be. Forrestor emphasizes that this plan shouldn’t be developed in isolation from the people in the business. By including active participation of staff, you can increase engagement with new objectives.[2] Business mapping gives way to modeling where you “consider the business requirements in the area of interest including stakeholders, business entities and their relationships, and business integration points.”[3]

Business expert Jason Bloomberg suggests that business architecture must become agile architecture.  IT leaders must be prepared to help businesses move and adapt to changing technologies, modes of business, and even changing security landscapes. In his recent book, Agile Architecture, Bloomberg outlines five areas where IT can help business become more agile:

  1. Location independence: Business services must be developed for mobility. Regardless of the specific technology, business must develop and utilize tools that support mobility.
  2. Global cubicle: Collaboration can happen across the hall as well as across the continent. In the days ahead (and in many situations now), staff must be prepared to collaborate with a range of people in the office and in multiple other locations.
  3. Democratization of technology: More and more staff members are taking advantage of mobile apps and tools as part of their daily responsibilities. IT can help navigate the challenges and opportunities of consumerized technologies.
  4. Deep interoperability: As more and more technologies play a role in business operations, it is essentials that interaction between technologies is seamless.
  5. Complex systems engineering: In an agile environment, governance is essential for shepherding growth and movement forward. Bloomberg predicts that CIOs will become CGOs (Chief Governance Officers).[4]

Whenever your business begins preparing for the year end reports, it’s worth stepping back and considering a thorough engagement with architecture in light of agility as you look toward the future.

[1] Adam Boczek. “Business Architecture for IT-Dummies.” Codecentric, January 24, 2013
[2] Derek Miers. “The Evolving Role of Business Architecture.” Forrestor Research, March 14, 2013 <http://blogs.forrester.com/derek_miers/13-03-14-the_evolving_role_of_business_architecture?cm_mmc=RSS-_-IT-_-62-_-blog_2598>
[3] Business Architecture. Wikipedia <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Business_architecture
[4] Joe McKendrick. “The 5 ‘supertrends’ of enterprise IT.” ZDNet, March 15, 2013 <http://www.zdnet.com/the-5-supertrends-of-enterprise-it-7000012682/>